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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s National Hispanic Heritage month in the U.S. and since 2000, Kentucky’s Latin or Hispanic population has grown from 2.7% to 4.2%, bringing the state total in that demographic to about 200,000 people.
In Louisville, a barbershop founded by two brothers has seen the evolution of its neighborhood change.
Noe Villar and his brother Jordan opened Villar Bros Barbershop in 2019 in Louisville and most recently in Shelbyville.
“Being bilingual was actually really cool,” Noe Villar said. “Like, it was the first time that there was somebody to speak both and a lot of the Hispanic guys… they would tell each other, ‘Oh go to their shoppers, I gotta speak Spanish.’ And I saw my Spanish… it was more choppy. And I think just being around the Hispanic guys again, talking to them, I started remembering everything.”
Noe recognized that offering a bilingual service was something that Latino men in the area couldn’t find anywhere else but his barbershop.
“I was like, alright, being bilingual [is] super cool,” he said. “We can do this. I can open up a shop and you know, have a lot of these Latino guys out.”
His family moved to the states when he was just a kid. They lived in Oldham county for a while, and Noe remembers it all well.
“My mom was like, that’s your gift, you know. We are going to America… Looking back, that is probably the best gift that could have gotten us,” Villar said.
When you come to the states, he said, you naturally want to be accepted by the new culture.
“I think we sometimes… camouflage, you know, try to blend in and try to fit in, because everybody wants to be accepted and everybody wants to fit in,” Villar said.
That’s why he wants to make it easier for others on their own journey to embrace their roots and traditions. 
“We want to make sure that anybody walks in here feels welcome, you know, feels like they’re part of it too,” Villar said. “You know, like I said before, because you do know what it feels to be left out and how that feels.”
That focus helps others while he fully embraces his Mexican heritage.
“I love helping other Hispanics, especially. I remember when we didn’t know my parents, they didn’t know, and I was translating for them. And now, if I go somewhere and I see a Hispanic guy struggling, I will go out of my way to be like, ‘Hey, can I help you.’ I find joy in that sometimes, too. Especially because I know the struggle of not knowing,” Villar said.
National Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson.
It was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

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